Manzotti: Excelsior (Live Recording From The Teatro Degli Arcimboldi Milano 2002) (Arthaus Dvd: 107115)
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In 1881 La Scala Milan staged a magnificent ballet spectacle. The aim was to present by means of a ballet all the great discoveries and achievements which had illuminated the late 19th century. The result was 'a choreographic, historic, allegoric, phantastic plot in two parts and eleven scenes', i.e. this was not a ballet in the classical sense. Excelsior is a kind of choreographic composition, which sings the praises of progress in science and accomplishments, in keeping with the era of supreme optimism. The steam engine, the Brooklyn Bridge, electricity, telegraph, the Suez Canal and the tunnel between Italy and France are all technical achievements, which are shown on stage. Despite its seemingly dreary subject matter it was a huge success when first performed, and enjoyed a run of 103 performances during that year alone. This production from 2002 at the Teatro alla Scala brings a riot of colour to Manzotti's work. With 100 dancers on stage at a time, references to the golden MGM film era and Busby Berkeley-style dancing, it is guaranteed to intrigue and charm!